Finch was the son of Edwin Wilson and writer Julia E. Neely Finch.
Finch worked for the Sloss Iron & Steel Co. in 1889 and for the Elyton Land Company in 1890. He boarded at the Park Avenue Hotel at that time. He was working as a clerk for the Southern Iron Company in 1896–1897, and then resided at 2122 4th Avenue North.
Finch was a member of the Jefferson Volunteers and enlisted as a sergeant of Company G of the 1st Alabama Infantry during the Spanish-American War. He died from typhoid fever at the Division Hospital at Jacksonville, Florida in August 1898. He was survived by his parents and two siblings, Edwin Jr and Lucine.
The militia had previously agreed to memorialize the first death from their company with the name and day of their annual service and parade from Birmingham City Hall to Oak Hill Cemetery where they laid flowers and fired a rifle salute. The "Phil Finch Memorial" was observed annually until 1913 when it was changed to Jefferson County Military Memorial to honor the sacrifices of all of the county's military organizations.
- Philip Neely Finch at Findagrave.com